Juventus in 7th heaven after crushing Parma

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Joy: Juventus gave a resounding performance in Parma demolition.

Juventus reasserted their absolute authority in Serie A by humiliating Parma in Turin.

The league leaders could not have sent a clearer message to title rivals Roma as braces from Fernando Llorente, Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata, and a fine strike from Stephan Lichtsteiner reminded the capital club exactly what kind of machine they are daring to challenge.

Relegation-threatened Parma were brought down to earth with an almighty bump following last weekend’s inspiring victory over Internazionale and the Gialloblu meekly returned to last place having reached 30 goals conceded from only 11 games.

Parma’s various weaknesses meant they were never likely to cause Juve too many problems and they did rather well to keep the champions at arm’s length until the 24th minute.

After Tevez had blasted over the bar from distance Paul Pogba enjoyed better accuracy and when Antonio Mirante parried his drive into harm’s way, Llorente arrived at speed to tuck home a neat finish. 

Jose Mauri got Gianluigi Buffon working with a fierce attempt off his right boot in the 27th minute but the effort gave Parma false hope and they soon fell two goals behind. 

Juve’s second was a goal of real beauty as Lichtsteiner shaped his body to send the ball on a curving arc that was too good for Mirante and nestled in the top corner. 

The Bianconeri caught their breath before resuming their assault in the 36th minute, which saw Lichtsteiner burst down the right before finding Llorente for an easy conversion at the far post. 

A fourth before the break might have been cruel on Parma, so they were grateful to Tevez as his shot on the turn missed the mark in the seconds preceding half-time.

Abdelkader Ghezzal sparked fresh hope in the Parma team with his angled attempt immediately after the restart, but it was yet another false dawn.

Tevez got the Juventus Stadium bouncing once again with a fine fourth at the end of a mazy dribble that left three Gialloblu defenders standing. 

The Argentinian doubled up in the 58th minute. Parma’s centre-backs were caught ball-watching when Mirante repelled Pogba’s effort and Tevez capitalised to thrash the ball home.

Parma enjoyed 18 minutes without conceding but shipped a sixth when Morata controlled fellow substitute Kingsley Coman’s ball over the top before beating Mirante with ease.

Goal number seven arrived two minutes from time as Morata tucked home Lichtsteiner’s dainty pass to convert his own brace and compound Parma’s misery.

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Kroos first goal caps another imperious performance

Andy West 10/11/2014
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Seamlessly slotting in: Toni Kroos looks at home in the Real Madrid midfield.

Carlo Ancelotti has hailed Toni Kroos after the German interna­tional scored his first goal for Real Madrid in Saturday’s comprehen­sive victory over Rayo Vallecano.

Kroos struck his team’s third goal early in the second half to set­tle his team’s nerves after the visi­tors threatened to mount a stirring comeback, sending the league lead­ers on the way to a 5-1 victory.

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And Ancelotti felt Kroos’ goal was the icing on the cake of another influential performance, claiming: “Kroos was the man of the match, he is playing to a very high level.”

The 24-year-old was signed for just 25 million pounds (Dh114.5m) from Bayern Munich and already his contribution is making his signing look like a bargain purchase, some­thing big-spending Madrid are not usually associated with.

Kroos’ smooth introduction and the equally impressive form of Luka Modric has provided a springboard for Madrid’s success.

Although both Kroos and his Croatian partner have previously operated as playmakers for club and country, Ancelotti has man­aged to blend them into deep-lying midfielders, with one covering for the other if he decides to move for­ward.

No mean feat when you consider the attacking wealth Madrid pos­sess and the area they have to cover in order to maintain balance in the middle of the park.

It has also helped ease the unex­pected departure of Xabi Alonso to Bayern.

Alonso was seen as the glue that held Madrid’s aggressive, attack­ing ethos together and made them more of a unit but Ancelotti, at least so far, has been able to compensate for the exit of the veteran Spanish midfielder.

“They are a very good pairing,” the Italian said.

“Kroos has the freedom to go forward from time to time and, when he does, Modric covers his position.”

Madrid’s opening goal was scored by Gareth Bale after he returned to the starting line-up following a month out with a hip and but­tock injury, and the Welshman has spoken of his admiration for Cris­tiano Ronaldo, whose late fifth goal means he has now scored in every home league game for a year.

Bale is delighted to have been named on the shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award, saying: “If you don’t want to be the world’s best you probably shouldn’t be playing football.”

But he also acknowledged that Ronaldo is the undisputed master of the Bernabeu, as he added: “At the moment, Ronaldo is on another level to everyone else.”

The Portuguese has already reg­istered 18 league goals so far – eight more than La Liga’s second-highest scorer, Neymar – and Bale admitted the opportunity to play alongside the winger is a major motivating factor.

“It’s another reason why I came to Madrid – to learn from the best players,” added Bale.

“Seeing him in training every day, how concentrated he is on every as­pect of his game and on the pitch, it gives me that kind of platform to aim for and keep improving. Hope­fully one day I can get there.”  

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Guardiola assures Barcelona fans Enrique will deliver

Andy West 10/11/2014
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Unconvincing start: Luis Enrique.

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardio­la has backed his former Barcelona colleague Luis Enrique to be suc­cessful in Catalonia – but warned it will not happen immediately.

The pair were team-mates for five years, winning the La Liga title in 1998 and 1999, and Guardio­la subsequently handed Enrique his first managerial role by appointing him B team manager when he took over at the Nou Camp in 2008.

Guardiola knows exactly what it takes to succeed with Barca, hav­ing led the team to no less than 14 trophies during an unprecedented period of success between 2008 and 2012, but he cautioned crit­ics of Enrique that trophies do not come easily.

“He’s going to be a success, but like all things in life, it’ll take time,” said Guardiola.

“Football is a proc­ess. You can’t just turn up and then expect to win everything by November.”

And although Enrique has received plenty of criticism follow­ing recent displays, Guardiola has urged the club’s fans to retain faith.

He added: “You have to give it time and work hard.

"Sometimes things are plain sailing, sometimes they are a bit tougher.”

Enrique, meanwhile, could only find solace in the old maxim that champions are capable of picking up points even when they are below their best following Barca’s uncon­vincing 2-1 victory over Almeria.

“To be successful you need to win playing badly,” he said.

“But that doesn’t cover up the fact we played badly.”

The game was another blank for Lionel Messi, who hit the wood­work in both halves but has now failed to score in three consecutive league outings after climbing to 250 career goals, one short of levelling Telmo Zarra’s all-time record.

But Enrique was reluctant to assess the performance of his star man, insisting: “I’d rather analyse the team.

"The individual players were below par and we suffered from a lack of precision. We need to improve to get our style of football back and to keep winning games and picking up points.”

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